Disclaimer: All characters and song lyrics are not owned by me. No coconuts were harmed in the making of this story.
Please excuse my angst bucket. A very literal inspiration from Hybrid Rainbow by The Pillows. Not!real life AU. Friendship fic. I know, bizzaro for me, it won't happen very often.
A deserted island which seems to have mostly sunk
Not found on any globe, not even named
Yesterday the ship we hoped for came close but
It didn't even come to meet us.
The island where they live is very superstitious. There's not much to it, but the legends and beliefs are set so firmly in their minds that it's basically truth. The island itself is only made of three things; beaches, palm trees and tall hills. It's almost shaped like a target, except that no one should ever want to hit it. The outer ring is the beach. It's wide, rimed with large rocks and goes all the way around the island. Axel and Roxas tested it once, and it took them all day, but they walked in the waves all the way around the island so that their feet were wrinkled like prunes by the time they got back to their shoes. And it had been the same beach all the way around.
The second ring is the palm trees. There are several different groves of trees, but they bleed together at the edges so that it's just the same as if they were all a part of the same forest. Axel and Roxas have walked all the way around that ring as well, but it was more inadvertent than their beach experiment.
At the center of the island is a cluster of tall hills that look like they're trying to be mountains. Somehow, a creak runs through it in the right direction to form a small waterfall. According to superstition, the waterfall is one of the most important places on the island. The people trapped there use it as a sign of faith. They say that if you can see a rainbow from a certain spot below the cliff it runs off, then you're safe from the demons that supposedly eat your soul. Everyone is sure that the demons are real because their handiwork is scattered all around the island.
It's almost everyday that Axel and Roxas go to that spot. Most people are afraid the hope in their heart that keeps the demons away isn't real, but Roxas is just the opposite. He's so full of hope and faith that he loves seeing it personified into physical proof. So they go to that spot and stand under that cliff where the light doesn't quite hit the water at the right angle to refract correctly and look for the rainbow. To Axel, it's just a spray of water, but Roxas always smiles and stares for a long time. He doesn't know how, but Axel knows Roxas can see the rainbow.
There's a small harbor on the east end of the island. It's the only reason anyone knows where east is, and it's only littered with small, wooden boats, none of which have motors. It only really exists for the barge that comes from the mainland once every month. It's old and creaks, and the paint is chipped everywhere except where someone painted the word "Hope" in large, dark blue letters on the back. No one ever bothered to wash it off or paint over it because it was true. Even if the thin gold lettering on the side named it the Saint Julip, everyone on the island called it Hope.
It's mainly for delivering supplies. Mostly food, sometimes materials, but that isn't why people wait for it. With the space the delivery frees up there's room to take about twenty people back to the mainland with it. Not that it ever takes the full twenty. There's an old man on the island who gets a list from the ship's captain and then hands out invitations to take the barge back. The list is the names of people who have "earned" the right to get off the island, to people who have never lost hope and always believed they could make it back to the mainland.
Axel boasts that he wont be getting one. Practically doesn't want it. He is done with hope; he's going to spend the rest of his days on that island and, even if it's just he and Roxas, he'll get by just fine. That's what he always says when the subject comes around.
Roxas admires him for that. He always tells Axel how amazing he thinks it is that he can keep the soul eating demons away even without any hope to protect him. Axel always laughs and proclaims that, yes, he is amazing, but he wouldn't be that way if Roxas wasn't around.
"I still want to get to the mainland, but it's not so bad with you around," Roxas says, and Axel ruffles his spiky hair with a laugh. Roxas smiles because he and Axel both know that's an understatement.
It's perfect with Axel around.
Axel is trying to climb up a palm tree so he can watch the sunset from the very top, and he's actually getting somewhere. The rough bark provides just enough foot and hand holds, the only thing that's slowing him down is the fact that Axel has no muscles despite how much fish the two of them eat. Roxas waits at the bottom and cheers him on while laughing. Axel makes a face when he's halfway up.
"Aren't you coming?" he asks. Roxas scoffs at him.
"There's no way I'm getting all the way up there," he calls back. That makes Axel look like he wants to jump down.
"… Then what the hell am I doing? It's not worth it if you're not up there with me." Roxas chuckles softly and adds that to the many reasons why he's glad to have Axel around.
"If you hurry, we can still watch it at the beach," is his response, and Axel fumbles his way part way down before just letting go and falling on his ass. Roxas helps him up with a laugh and Axel rubs his backside with a begrudged mumble of something Roxas doesn't catch. When he looks up at him questioningly, Axel just gives him a cheeky smile.
"It's your loss, buddy." Roxas elbows him in the side and they walk to the beach with their arms around each other.
They go to the north west side of the island because the Saint Julip is departing and Roxas always turns around to watch it disappear on the horizon. It's Axel's least favorite day to watch the sunset because he does that. Roxas always denies it, but Axel tells him that when he looks back at the ship it looks as if he could cry.
"I'm really not that upset or anything," Roxas says in protest. "I've got you around, after all."
"Don't lie," Axel replies with a playful shove to the other's shoulder, and they laugh. They watch the sun until it completely disappears, and the next day they are so sunburned that they spend the entire day in the shade by the waterfall, occasionally soaking in the cool water and complaining to each other that it stings.
Roxas can tell that Axel enjoys days like these. There is something about his grin that is wider and more satisfied and it catches Roxas off guard so that there is no time to think before they are laughing together. It is the kind of thing that can make someone think life on the island isn't so bad, really, even if there is that constant nagging sensation at the back of Roxas' mind that reminds him that there are better things out there that he does not have. He can ignore it when Axel smiles like that.
Axel tries to hold their bodies close from behind, which Roxas does not allow. It stings their arms and chests to make contact, but even without their burns the blond would have shoved the other off. They are close enough so that physical contact should not bother either of them and Roxas finds that he even craves it from time to time, but there is something wholly embarrassing about embracing another person, even if it is Axel. Roxas does not think he really understands the feeling himself, but it makes him nervous and jumpy so he does not like it. Axel does not seem at all phased to be pushed away as he is and Roxas is thankful that he does not have to feel guilty for doing so.
They are sitting at the dock in the morning when it happens.
Axel is trying to convince Roxas that they should take their little canoe out to sea. They have done it before, they pretend they are adventurers out looking for new lands and are successful because the open ocean is new and different compared to their island. Roxas is always weary when they take it out, though, because it is hand carved so the buoyancy is not quite right and it wobbles a lot. He does not feel like reliving the tipping incident that occurred the last time they took it out, so he is stubborn and refusing. The more they go back and forth, the more Axel laughs.
"Ah, so this is where you two have been hiding." The voice comes from behind, which makes Axel and Roxas jump; usually they don't talk to anyone and no one talks to them in return. It works out well. They never know when the other kids of the island disappear or just shut down and that makes it easier for them.
They turn and see the old man with the list.
Neither of them can speak.
"Here you are, Roxas my boy, you've done well for yourself," the old man says, holding an envelope out to Roxas. It takes him a moment, but he takes it, arm shaking the whole while. They both stare at the man with no words until he turns and begins walking away.
They stare at the envelope, eyes wide and mouths agape. Then they stare at each other. Axel's shoulders sag and his face contorts, and then he is sprinting after the old man who is heading into one of the tree groves. Roxas is delayed in standing, but he gets up to follow Axel, only jogging weakly. He can see the two of them scanning the list, but the man heads off into the trees without handing Axel anything.
"Maybe next time, he said." Axel's voice is broken and weak. Roxas thinks he sees his friend tearing up.
"Axel…" but Roxas has no words. Neither of them do.
"Come on, let's…. Let's go to the waterfall. You can look at that rainbow of yours again." Axel almost sounds bitter, but Roxas tries to tell himself that he imagined that.
They both sit with their feet in the pool and say nothing for the rest of the day.
Axel is a little more cheerful the next day and they walk around the beach to pass the time. They both steal glances and grimace to themselves while the other isn't looking.
Hardly any words are exchanged. Axel avoids talking about the invitation, does not even acknowledge the topic if Roxas brings it up, so Roxas stops mentioning it all together. But Roxas wants to talk about it. He wants to know what Axel thinks, what he is feeling, make some sort of plan. But all of that is easy enough to tell just by looking at him. Axel looks as if he is slowly dying inside.
"Think I should try climbing it again?" Axel asks another day. They are back at the palm trees and they have not been doing much around the island other than walk, sit and brood. Roxas can no longer even pretend to be cheerful because Axel no longer can. He looks up at the tree and frowns.
"I can't follow you up there if you do," he answers because it's true. Roxas has never wanted to climb a palm tree, the bark hurts and his arms do not support him enough to get very far. Axel makes a face, almost a cross between a grimace and a smile, and sits at the base of the tree instead.
"There's no point in me going up there, then," Axel reasons, and Roxas realizes that it's always been that way between them. He thinks he should say something, but no words come to him so he just sits beside Axel and they stare up at the canopy above them for the rest of the day.
It's the day before the Saint Julip is scheduled to arrive and, strangely, Axel is no where to be found. Roxas runs as fast as he can to all their usual meeting spots; the pool, the grove, the clearing, the tide pool, the empty parts of the beach. Nothing. As he runs, others call out to him to ask what is wrong. They are only speaking to him because he is distressed. But it is because he is distressed that he ignores them all.
Finally, Roxas checks the dock. He doesn't think Axel would want to be there considering what tomorrow is, but that's where he finds him. As he approaches, he sees their boat is overturned and that there are holes in the hull.
"Axel?" he calls out and gets no answer. He calls again, gets closer, shakes his shoulder and gets nothing. Axel is staring, with half lidded eyes, at a single point in the ocean. He's not moving and it hardly seems like he is even breathing. Roxas gives his name one more shout and sobs.
"Is this what you think of our friendship?!" he cries past the huge lump that has formed in his throat. He takes deep breathes, but can hardly get any air. He sobs instead. Sobs and keeps shouting. "You'll follow me anywhere but you don't think I will? You won't leave me behind, but you think I will? What is that?! Don't you trust me? After all this time, I thought…!" Roxas cannot even speak anymore past his shivers and sobs but Axel still does not stir.
Axel is gone, lost to the demons that have devoured the hope he had always claimed not to have.
"Fine! Some friend you are!" Roxas shouts brokenly before turning and running into the trees, not stopping or slowing until his heart feels as if it might burst and his legs give way. He falls to the ground in a crumpled heap and bawls. He cries until there are no more tears left in his eyes and even then he still sobs.
The next day comes and passes and Roxas is still on the island. He's thought about it over and over, cried over it several more times and is left with the dull sensation of almost being alone. Even if Axel doubts his loyalties, Roxas cannot even begin to pretend that he can do anything without him. So he stayed. He still has not seen Axel since the previous day, but that doesn't make him any less sure of his decision.
He sits at the fringes of a palm tree grove and watches as the ship arrives. It's cargo is unloaded and a group of people shuffle on board. And then it leaves.
There are no second chances with the Saint Julip.
Roxas does not cry over this.
He watches the Saint Julip disappear over the horizon, and only when he can no longer see it does he stand and make his way to the center of the island.
Axel is sitting at the pool by the waterfall. His feet are in the water and he's staring up at where Roxas can usually see the rainbow. Roxas smiles even as his eyes water and he takes a seat next to him.
"It's funny," the red head says softly, "I think I can see the rainbow from here…" Roxas doesn't need to turn his head to see the tear that rolls down Axel's cheek. It seems both of them have been crying far too much the last few days.
"You're an asshole," is all Roxas says before latching his arms around Axel's shoulders, digging his face as far into his chest as it will go. Axel returns the embrace, holding tightly to Roxas' smaller frame. They both hold on tightly, as if for dear life, and never want to think about letting go.
It is a silent vow to never be parted from one another ever again.
A month later, Axel receives his invitation. Roxas can only laugh at the irony of it and Axel only spares it a cry of "What the fuck!" before he rips it to shreds and tosses the pieces into the ocean. They shout curses at the small shreds of paper until there are no more to shout at and then they go to their waterfall.
The rainbow they see is a mix of light refracting and imagination. The hope of an even brighter tomorrow and the promise of eternal friendship.
Can you feel?
Can you feel that hybrid rainbow?
Even we, who weren't chosen up till yesterday
Are waiting for tomorrow